Furry Pirates Capsule Review by Papyrus on 02/02/03
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)
I would recommend the purchase to anyone looking to explore swashbuckling fantasy and anthropomorphic.
Product: Furry Pirates
Author: Lisa Breakey and Bruce Thomas
Company/Publisher: Atlas Games (Furry Games)
Page count: 175
Comp copy?: yes
Capsule Review by Papyrus on 02/02/03
Genre tags: Fantasy Historical
I really have been inundated with Piracy and Swashbuckling this past year. I managed to find myself a copy of High Seas (for FGU's Flashing Blades), I read the Time/Life Mariners series volume on Pirates, I was asked to dig out my old copy of the Swashbuckler board game (Yaquinto), I received a copy of Crimson Blade (Better Games) and now I am reviewing Furry Pirates. With all of that exposure, I have to say that Furry Pirates provides the most historically accurate and abundant background information despite its deviation from homosapien to furry-sapien. More on that later.
Furry Pirates is a derivative of Furry Outlaws, a frpg published by Furry Games. I can only guess that Atlas' greater resources prompted this publication to be a part of the Atlas line, though Furry Games and (strangely enough) Dave Nalle's Ragnarok Enterprises (Ysgarth, To Challenge Tomorrow) get some advertising inside the back cover. To Atlas Games' credit, the production values are satisfyingly high. Appropriately illustrated, in B&W, and easy to read formatting makes this rather densely worded book a pleasure to dive into.
Several references are made throughout the book to Furry Outlaws as the two games share a rpg system, writers and a timeline (one precedes the other on this alternate Earth of furry-sapiens). Furry Games calls their game system Halogen, a name for which I can find no significance other than no other rpg system is called Halogen. I can't say that I have a strong opinion of the Halogen system, it is difficult to describe the "taste" it left with me. On one hand it contains many of the familiar elements most other games have, its roots in frpg (Furry Outlaws) makes it sound familiar to anyone exposed to D&D. On the other hand, there are twists and differences that make it original and therefore requiring more attention when learning to play. In the end I have to say it was neither original enough nor familiar enough for me to want to trouble with it, if I run a Furry Pirates campaign, it will be with a different system.
The first chapters of the book provides rules for Character Generation, Skills and Advancement, Game Mechanics, Furry-to-Furry and Ship Combat. As I said, nothing truly innovative. Each animal type is given modifiers to attributes and ranges for attributes and physical stats. Lower numbers are better than higher ones when determining task resolution and combat, which is one of the odd differences refereed to above.
Magic receives a very Ars Magica treatment, organizations specialize in colleges of magic. Since the days of Furry Outlaws, magic has been waning, and the age of reason is upon the Furry world. Magic remains active among the religions and secret societies of the various cultures that make up the campaign. Elemental magic appears the most likely to be used at sea as the materials are readily available. Most ships employ a sorcerer, mostly as navigator, as do governments and other organizations. Cabalists, Free Masons, and other historical orders are given types of magic they teach and perform. After the chapters describing the different parts of the Halogen rules, is a chapter that discusses pirate ships. General features and equipment are discussed, and detailed ship stats for 19 ship types are provided. Wind, crew and hull type determine the speed and maneuverability of the different ships.
The next chapter provides an amazing overview of the historic world in the age of piracy with the addition of magic and the difference that everyone is a furry of some species or another. It is the campaign background that really makes the product shine, to the point of making it worth the cover price to anyone wanting to game piracy. I found it as good a history of our world as my Time/Life book on Pirates, in some details even better. Each chapter details a different facet of the "Furry world of piracy". Divided by continent, no culture is left out, the entire earth is covered. Details supplied include; climate, government, economics, typical furry species inhabitants, magic, history and a piece on each country, tribe and/or organization in existence.
A small chapter is dedicated to explanations of the metaphysics of this parallel universe. Astral Plane mechanics, undead, and magic all receive a pseudo science explanation and overview. The last chapter is titled "The Powers the Be", describing entities from individual Kings to Pirates, and groups of Elite Soldiers and Magic Orders. Again the attention to detail of real life historical figures is staggering. Lastly, a very long and detailed adventure is provided, exercising every aspect of the game. It involves a magical relic and the forces that seek to possess it with plenty of sidebar encounters in between. Like the rest of the work, very well done.
Overall I would have to say that no gamer would be disappointed with Furry Pirates. Given the opportunity and the cash, I would recommend the purchase to anyone looking to explore swashbuckling fantasy and anthropomorphic.